READY FOR PRIME TIME
The so-called high profile programs—those at North Carolina, Louisville, UNLV, Georgetown and the like—have a virtual monopoly on national television exposure. Look at the 65 regular-season games carried by the three major networks and you'll find that 20 teams are a part of about 85% of the telecasts. The same 20 teams are represented in more than 50% of the 161 regular-season games that appear on ESPN. What that means is that many deserving teams and players operate in obscurity, appreciated only by their local fans and the NBA scouts. Just so you know what you're missing, here are five players you probably haven't seen but would enjoy watching if you could:
? Cedric Ceballos of Cal State-Fullerton will make two appearances on ESPN this season, both of them after midnight EST. He is a late bloomer who didn't start in high school until the final game of his senior season but went on to lead Ventura College to the California state juco championship before enrolling at Fullerton.
Now, as a 6'7�", 195-pound senior, he's averaging 23.1 points, 12.1 rebounds and several NBA scouts per game. During a 72-64 overtime loss to UC Santa Barbara on Jan. 29, he got 33 points and 17 rebounds and was scrutinized by 13 scouts representing 11 NBA teams. They like his quickness, his leaping ability and his hands.
?Another Big West sleeper is Santa Barbara's 6'6" Eric McArthur, who uses his amazing 7'3" arm span to sweep the boards for an average of 13.9 rebounds, tops in the nation. He's also averaging 16.4 points and 3.2 blocks. "The thing I know he can do is jump quick," says Cleveland Cavalier general manager Wayne Embry. "Not many guys can block jump shots. He did it about three times in the [Jan. 29] Fullerton game."
A gangly 6'5" coming out of high school, McArthur had only one other scholarship offer, from UC Irvine, even though he had averaged 19.2 rebounds as a senior. "All his parts didn't seem to work together," says Santa Barbara coach Jerry Pimm. Even though he's short by NBA frontcourt standards, McArthur will get a chance to play.
"There are very few great rebounders—and he's a great one," says scout Scott Layden of the Utah Jazz. "It's more popular to be a scorer, but he does the work in the trenches."
?A.J. English of Virginia Union stands only 6'4�" but has a terrific vertical leap, and he can electrify crowds with a startling array of dunks. He also shoots well from the perimeter, as shown by his 48 three-pointers in 99 attempts as of Sunday, at which time he was averaging 32.5 points (tops in Division II) and 7.5 rebounds per game.
Among English's fans is coach Clarence (Bighouse) Gaines of Winston-Salem State, who coached him two summers ago on the U.S. team that won the Jones Cup in Taiwan. Although the team also featured Billy Owens and LeRon Ellis of Syracuse and Felton Spencer of Louisville, English was the team's leading scorer and MVP. "He can fill it up," says Gaines. "He shoots that old Sam Jones bank shot. He's a scorer, an assist man and a perfect team player."
?Duquesne's 3-18 record through Sunday was certainly no fault of Mark Stevenson, a 6'6" transfer from Notre Dame who averages 27.6 points per game. Stevenson often started during his three years with the Irish, but he was arrested for shoplifting in December 1987 and for underage drinking the next month. Although both charges were dropped in exchange for community service, Stevenson was suspended for four games, and he eventually transferred to Duquesne with only a year of eligibility remaining. "I felt bad for my family because my family didn't raise me like that," said Stevenson.